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NEWS UPDATES 27 April 2010

Myanmar: Ministers ditches military uniforms to enter polls

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Myanmar's prime minister and some 22 other ministers retired from their military posts on Monday, in a move seen as converting the leadership to civilian form ahead of elections due this year, reported AFP.

An official who requested anonymity said that Prime Minister General Thein Sein and other figures in the government stepped down late Monday and that others would follow.

"About 23 ministers and deputy ministers retired from their military posts. They will just change their military uniform. Their positions will be still the same as before," the source said.

Prominent minister Major General Htay Oo, who is close to the top junta leadership, was included in the group along with deputy home affairs minister Brigadier General Phone Swe, he said.

"There will be more retirements later. This was the first set of retirements today," the source said.

Myanmar's leader Senior General Than Shwe is the head of the ruling junta.

The elections planned for later this year have been sharply criticised by the international community because of rules which effectively rule out opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from participating.

Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), would have had to expel its leader if it wanted to take part in the polls.

Foreign governments have urged the regime to take steps to ensure the vote - the first since a 1990 poll won in a landslide by the NLD but never recognised - is free, fair and credible.


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